[221] More Reading Of Sūtras And Commentaries Is Superior To Reciting From Memory 多看经论,胜于背诵

[221] More Reading [Of] Sūtras [And] Commentaries, [Is] Superior To Reciting From Memory


[When] reading sūtras [and] commentaries, and each decree [and] regulation, [there] must not [be] impatience, [and there] must [be] more reading. [With] impatience, not able [to be] tranquil, [this is] definitely difficult [to] attain their objectives.


[In] later lives [with] slight intelligence, [once] attaining a sūtra book, with abandoning [of] sleep [and] forgetting [of] meals reading [it. For the] first time, reading through, [for the] second time then, without interest [for] reading [again]. Even if reading, also [with the] appearance of seemingly losing spirit. This kind [of] persons, [are] equally without accomplishment, [and] should [be] strongly warned against.

[Note 1: If with impatience ‘studying’ the Buddha’s teachings in a past life, one is likely to continue being impatient doing so in a future life, with superficial study, due to the assumption of oneself being ‘clever’. Losing spirit, one might be absent-minded and distracted during ‘study’, thus having little in-depth progress in faith, understanding, practice and realisation (信解行证). Likewise, if with impatience ‘studying’ the Buddha’s teachings in this present life, one is likely to continue being impatient doing so in the next life.]


Sū Dōngpō said, ‘[With] old books, not tiring [with a] hundred times studying [them, with] familiar studying [and] deep contemplation, you [will] personally know [them].’


Confucius [was] then [a] sage [with] birth knowledgeable, [yet] studying [the Book Of] Changes《易经》still, until [its bamboo scroll’s] leather binding [was] thrice broken. With [the] qualifications of Confucius, [whom] when [with texts] passing [his] eyes accomplishing reciting [from memory], why must [there be] again looking [at the] text then studying [it]? Thus know [that] looking [at] texts has great advantages.

[Note 2: The Book Of Changes《易经》is both a classic Chinese text for divination and collection of wisdom. Even if not trusting it for divination, it can be studied for its wisdom.]


Reciting from memory, [is] often [with a] smooth mouth reciting past. Looking [at the] text, [is] then [with] one word [and] one line, [with] all knowing [their] objectives. We should obtain [to] use [this] as [the] method, [and] absolutely must not show ourselves [to be] ‘intelligent’, [by] focusing [on] advocating reciting from memory.

[Note 3: Being able to memorise and recite accurately does not mean there is actual and deep understanding of that recited.]


When [it was] Confucius’ time, [it was] without paper, perhaps [with] books on wooden boards, or books on bamboo slips (also bamboo boards). [The] sixty-four hexagrams of [the Book Of] Changes, [are] thus those [by] Fúxī drawn. [The] sixty-four hexagrams’ opening poems of implications (彖辞), [are] thus those [by] King Wén written. [The] six line statements (爻辞) of every hexagram, [are] thus those [by] Duke Zhōu written.


Besides these, of [the] upper book’s Judgement Commentary [and] Image Commentary, [the] lower book’s Judgement Commentary [and] Image Commentary, also [the] Textual Sayings’ [Commentary]《文言传》of [the] two hexagrams of Qián [and] Kūn, and [the] Appended Phrases’ Higher Commentary, Appended Phrases’ Lower Commentary, Explained Hexagrams’ Commentary, Sequenced Hexagrams’ Commentary, Mixed Hexagrams’ Commentary, [of] those so-called Ten Wings, [they are] all those [by] Confucius written.


If about words speaking, that [which] Confucius wrote, compared [with] those works [of] King Wén [and] Duke Zhōu, [they are] then more than ten times. Yet, [as] Confucius’ studying [of the Book Of] Changes of King Wén [and] Duke Zhōu went so far, until having [the] frequently used leather strings of [the] bound [book], worn [out to be] broken three times, [it] can [be] known [that his] number [of] times studying it cannot [be] calculated.


[If] we [are] able [to be] with [the] perseverance of Confucius then studying [the] Buddha’s sūtras, [and] upholding [the] Buddha’s name [Āmítuófó: 阿弥陀佛], [this is] definitely able [to be] with [the] words [and] virtues of [the] Buddha, permeating our karmas [and] conscious minds, [to] accomplish [the] wisdom treasury of [the] Thus Come [One].

[Note 4: Our karmas are the three karmas (三业) of body, speech and mind (身口意).]

Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
Dharma Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings (Second Compilation): Letter [Of] Admonishment [For] Those [With] Initial Determination Learning Buddhism;
Record [Of] Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence (221st Short Section): 5th [Chapter]: Encouragement [Of The] Mind [To] Dwell [In] Sincerity [And] Reverence (16th Short Section)

[Ref: #221 / 5.13]

Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an

Related Text:

Record Of Great Master Yìnguāng’s Collected Writings’ Essence

Please be mindful of your speech, Amituofo!

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